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The Hammer: True Story of UFC Champ Matt Hamill

Matt Hamill

Available at: Toronto Public Library

Directed by: Oren Kaplan

Movie Info

Inspired by the life of deaf UFC fighter, Matt Hamill. The Hammer tells the story of what it takes to be a champion, on and off the mat. The Hammer is a coming of age drama depicting the struggles and successes of what it takes to become a champion. Raised among those with the ability to hear, Matt later finds himself no less an outsider amidst the Deaf Community. But through sheer determination, he uses his ‘perceived’ disability as an asset and becomes not only the first deaf wrestler to win a National Collegiate Championship, but an inspirational force to both hearing and deaf alike.

Hamill is played by Russell Harvard, who is a deaf actor.


Son of a single mother Janet Hamill, divorced by his father. The most important male relationship is with his grandfather. His grandfather encourages him to wrestle and is a real influence on the deaf boy. His mom wants him to go a special school, however, the grandfather wants him in a regular school. Initially, he is accepted at Purdue but gets kicked out due to dropping grades. That is the lowest point of his life and grandpa has to talk him out of it.

As a result of his being in a “normal” school, he is not taught sign language. He gets by lip reading and trying to form words. He is able to gain admission to a university (Rochester) more focused on deaf students. He becomes part of the wrestling team. To his surprise, nobody there lip reads and he has practice sign language. He starts a romance with a deaf student activist. She is keen to see that Matt joins her in activism besides his wrestling.

He is slated to wrestle Sloan, a two-time champion, who is “normal”. At one stage he is down 4 points, but rallies and wins the title. It was to be the start of an illustrious career in Wrestling and Ultimate Fighting.

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